Skiers warned against insurance complacency

Skiers and snowboarders heading for the slopes this winter are urged to check they have the right insurance cover.

A third of winter sports enthusiasts admit they travel without knowing if they have the appropriate insurance for the activities they want to do.

Surprisingly, the worst offenders are those in the over-55 age bracket, with 46%  saying they never check that they are covered.

The survey of 2,000 people by travel association ABTA and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is part of the #SkiSafe campaign, which urges people to ensure they are adequately prepared for their winter holiday.

There have been 58 British deaths and 118 hospitalisations from skiing and snowboarding holidays reported to the FCO in European resorts in the last four years, with thousands more suffering injuries both on and off-piste.

Small print

The cost of emergency medical treatment, being airlifted from the slopes or having to return to the UK unexpectedly amounts to many thousands of pounds, making it essential that travellers get the correct insurance cover.

However, it is likely that a large proportion of the estimated one million Britons who are due to visit the mountains this winter will fail to take into consideration the possible exemptions within their insurance documents.

Many policies will not cover skiing off-piste without a guide, and some require skiers and snowboarders to wear a helmet at all times. The more adventurous will also need to check the use of snowmobiles or whether they can go heli-skiing, where trails are accessed by helicopter rather than a ski lift.

EHIC card

Former Olympic skiier Graham Bell is backing the #SkiSafe campaign. His 10 tips for this winter include ensuring that skiers have a valid European Health Insurance Card in case of treatment at public hospitals in Europe.

This won’t cover all medical costs, private treatment or return to the UK, but some insurers will waive the excess if they have one.

ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “Winter sports holidays often include activities that may not be covered by the usual insurance policies, so we would advise holidaymakers to check that they are covered for everything they plan to do.”